Oct 18, 2006 Requiring ID Bracelets for Students
Five years ago, the Washington Post quoted me (correctly) as opposing the District of Columbia government’s plan to institute a barcode identification system for youths. Now the wrongheaded idea has seeped up the street to Montgomery County, Maryland’s, Montgomery Blair High School, which is just three miles up the street from my office.
Students at Blair High School (think Blair Witch Trial, now that the school requires wearing ID badges) must now wear one of eleven color-coded identification badges, including colors to mark students as freshmen, magnet students, and students of limited English proficiency. For a county that seems to pride itself on equal opportunity for all and top-notch education, the school system particularly puts its foot in its mouth by giving a scarlet letter to students speaking English as a second language. The only consolation is that they can request red freshman badges, instead.
Curiously — or perhaps by no mere coincidence — no ID-wearing (let alone color-coded ID-wearing) mandate exists for any of the county’s remaining public schools, including its nine other high schools, including those in the wealthiest and least racially- and ethnically- diverse parts of the county.
Leave it to the school system to add insult to injury by penalizing students for leaving a badge at home, including possible detention for a first intentional violation of the rule (how is intent proven?), and possible suspension for a second violation. Jon Katz